Royal National Theatre, Women of Troy

Review in Issue 7-2 | Summer 1995

The set was awesome. It looked like the terraces of a sporting stadium, complete with commentary box, pressed into service as a prisoner of war camp. It looked, above all, modern, It advised us, before a word was spoken, that Women of Troy was not only timeless but timely. Think Bosnia, it urged. Think Rwanda, it insisted. It can be a heady cocktail – this combination of the ‘classic’, with all the portent and authority the word suggests, and the urgency of the here and now.

Unfortunately, in this case, the mix of modern and ancient was just not handled very well. Some of the modern touches were irritating – the Greek soldiers played by American GIs and the sound of helicopters overhead, for instance – whilst others, such as Janie Dee’s Helen, played in the style of Marilyn Monroe, read only as clumsy directorial conceit. The Greek Chorus, which was choreographed marvellously and performed skilfully, sat awkwardly against these Americanisms.

All the performances were good but they were often swamped by the sheer messiness of the piece. Rosemary Harris as Hecuba battled heroically throughout, only Jane Birkin successfully transcended it. Ms Birkin’s voice is very beautiful, full of dark music and, for a brief while, one was fully engaged by the fate of these women of Troy.

However, the overwhelming impression was of a carelessly thought out piece, a rag-bag of styles and images that did little to illuminate the text.

Presenting Artists
Date Seen
  1. Apr 1995

This article in the magazine

Issue 7-2
p. 23